Theodore awoke, placing a hand to his aching chest, sensing his irregular heartbeat. He sighed; closing his eyes once more. A man stood at the foot of his bed, the vision was as clear as anything. A man with fine looks, who possessed a kindly face. Theodore squinted, could this be true? But of course, it is possible to regain sight in one’s dreams.
“Do I know you?”
“You may know of me, your Grace.”
“Wait, you both look similar, you are Miss McGrath’s Father? You sound so alike.”
“But-but you are dead.”
“The dead can appear in people’s dreams. Do not be scared of the unknown.”
“What frightens you, your Grace?”
“I am scared of being alone.”
“When it is your time, I will come for you. Bonnie asked me herself.”
“Yes, I must go but I will return soon.”
“I-I am no longer scared. Hmm?”
Theodore sensed a hand upon his cheek, it was Bonnie.
“Your Grace, you were talking in your sleep.”
“Oh, I um I had a strange dream. It was reassuring.”
“Yes, I feel at ease.”
“Well, I am pleased. How is your pain?”
“When you said that you were no longer scared, what did you mean?”
“Um, your reassurance has helped me a great deal.” He lied.
“I am glad, I’ll adjust your pillows.”
“Thank you. Bonnie, I have a question.”
“When your Father died, what happened?”
“Oh, forgive me.”
“Do not apologise, I shall give you an over-view. My Father had been ill for some time. He was strong but eventually he could not fight any longer. In the end, he did go quite peacefully, but I am afraid that he suffered a great deal in the long-term. I can only hope that he is in a better place now and free of all pain.”
“He is. I mean, I am sure that he will be.”
“That is what I should like to think. Would you like some water?”
Theodore took a couple of feeble sips.
“We will try again later, but for now, I hope that has helped.”
“Hmm. How long were your Father and Mother married for?”
“Oh, what were their trades?”
“Like most women, Mother is a house wife and Father was a tailor.”
“A tailor, you did not tell me.”
“He had not been able to work for some time, but we had some savings to live upon, until they ran out and I found work here.”
“Poor Man, I feel guilty that I have never worked a day in my life.”
“You are Royalty, you do not need to your Grace.”
“Hmm. I wish that I could have been of some use.”
“Lying here in bed? I think not.”
“That cannot be helped. You do not look very comfortable; you seem to have slipped down the bed somehow.”
“My elbow is a little sore.”
“I’ll have a look.” Bonnie rolled back the sleeve of his nightshirt, examining his elbow.
“Hmm, it is a little reddened. Place your arm across you, rest it upon your coverlet and the redness will soon go.”
Theodore tried to do so, but could not.
“You are finding it difficult?”
“Do not worry, I shall do it for you. There.”
“Thank you, for your kindness. I am still afraid that…I do not deserve it. What can I give you in return? I cannot simply take and give nothing at all.”
“Shall I tell you another story?”
“Are you trying to distract me?”
“Yes, yes I am. You do not have to give me anything, I receive a wage and your friendship is all I desire. You seem to be losing your voice.”
“My throat is a little sore.”
“I have just the cure, would you care for a sherbet lemon sweet?”
“Yes, I have a sweet tooth. Mother used to tell me that all my teeth would fall out if I ate too many sweeties and of course, when I was six, I lost my first milk tooth and was very alarmed.”
“I am not surprised. This is most refreshing. I love your stories, they are so very interesting, please tell me another.”
“Of course, but you are very tired. Do you still have no appetite?”
“None, but it does not matter.”
“You look a little flushed. Let me feel your forehead. Hmm, you are warm.”
“Please stop fretting Bonita.”
“I’ll pull this coverlet back for you and turn your pillow over so that it is cooler.”
“It is fine, please don’t.”
“Well at least let me prop you up again.”
Bonnie sat him forwards, turning his pillow onto the cool side. Theodore sighed, giving in and letting her assist him.
“I know it is not easy, but please, at least let me make you comfortable.”
“Do not bother, I wish to be alone! I am in pain and I do not need your pity.” He snapped.
“Alright. You know, you remind me of Father when he was ill. He wanted to be independent like you and I suppose he felt trapped. But I assure you, everything that I and your family are doing now is with good intent and out of love. I am here with you now, because I care.”
Theodore nodded. “That was rude of me, I apologise. My body hurts so.”
“You are aching?”
“Why didn’t you just say? Perhaps another bath might help to relieve it. But, perhaps we might place a cool flannel to your head as baths often create an artificial fever.”
“Sometimes I feel far too overheated after a bath. I shall ring for Mr Howard.”
“Miss McGrath, please do not go.”
“It would not be proper for me to stay in the bathroom.”
“Yes- yes of course.”
“I will change your bed.” Theodore nodded and closed his eyes.
“Mr Howard, his Grace would like another bath.”
“Yes of course.”
“I am more awake today.” Theodore smiled weakly. “But my legs feel like they are made from jelly.”
“Then, your Grace, I shall carry you, for you are as light as an autumn leaf.”
Theodore smiled. “I have not heard that expression before.”
Bonnie returned to the bedroom, stripping the bed, opening Theodore’s bedroom window for a short period of time. She adjusted the top sheet, tucking it over the coverlet as she listened to the harsh wind stripping the leaves from the trees outside.
Theodore mulled in the bath water, closing his eyes and attempting to block out the ongoing pain. He sighed placing a hand on his chest. Howard noticed the glinting ring, still upon his finger.
“Goodness, I do believe that I had forgotten to remove your ring!”
“That does not matter, I shall not be needing it for much longer- actually yes, please take it off. Thank goodness I hadn’t placed my hand under the water.”
“I’ll place it in my top pocket your Grace.”
“Thank you. I must take care of it as, as um… thank you Mr Howard.”
©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014